Every 23 seconds, an attorney is asked: “What are my chances of winning?”
Some attorneys play along with this game, especially if it’s a slow month, and throw out a number, like: “You have an 90% chance of winning”. Most people call several attorneys, and the attorney who is most confident (throwing out numbers, say, in the 90% range) may end up getting the case. Confidence is a good for business, right? But, are such numbers honest?
After 23 years of defending criminal cases (my web people love statements that brag about decades of practice, I will get a star beside my name for this), I am here to tell you that such numbers are pulled out of thin air. I know, it’s shocking to hear that an attorney could utter words that stretch the truth. Pull yourself together and read on, because other professions are just as guilty of spitting out misleading/unsubstantiated numbers as attorneys.
Financial advisers and scientists are at the top of the misleading numbers list. Yes, this is why you don’t believe every infomercial that claims “studies have shown xyz 99% effective”. But the problem here runs deeper than shady marketing practices, the problem involves what sort of conclusions scientists and financial analysts should be permitted to draw from their data. To understand problems with data interpretation, we’re going to take a journey through my Kindle highlights from an excellent book by Nassim Taleb entitled Fooled By Randomness. The book explains just how difficult it is to answer the very simple question “What are my chances”. Continue Reading